Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I'm Back!

Yo! I'm back. Had a great time... but... let me recommend that you all avoid Royal Caribbean (RCI). Here are some thoughts/impressions.

● The ship was not great. They apparently pool tips so none of the staff really cared. The result was an indifferent staff that was sometimes actually a little rude and was rarely helpful (our stateroom guy was fantastic). They were poorly trained too. I felt sad for the truly special staff members we met because they were held back by the others.

● Their water show was amazing. It was probably the best show of any type I've ever seen. Their other shows were good too.

● The biggest problem with the ship was that it utterly lacked elegance. It came across like a day at a mid-level mall, complete with gangs of Chinese teens walking back and forth pointlessly. That was the ship's target audience too, so there was nowhere elegant and nowhere to relax on the ship. Everywhere you went, even the formal dining room, they were playing pop music loudly. Disney, by comparison, was super elegant and super relaxed, but still offered lots of stimulation and excitement.

● Food is usually the biggest thing on a cruise ship. You expect original stuff, you expect high quality. It wasn't here. The main dining room reminded my of Applebys. Disney's food was some of the best I ever had.

● The most annoying aspect of this ship was that I came to see it as the SS In-App-Purchase because they stupidly nickled and dimed you throughout. To try to make and extra $2, $4, $7, they kept annoying us.

● Jurassic Park: We went to Labadee, Haiti. It turns out this is a little part of Haiti owned by RCI. It is gorgeous. It is also separated from actual Haiti by an electric fence. One of the comedians said it was like Jurassic Park, and he was right. I would have liked to see real Haiti.

● In Labadee, we took an excursion on a sail boat (1970's luxury yacht) with 6-7 other people. Oh my God, I have found my calling in life. You can't image how relaxing this was. Moreover, the Captain was fantastic. He told us all about Columbus's journey to Haiti and showed us several cool things about Haiti and then spoken generally about the world with us. We had an incredible time.

● Jamaica had the ideal port. There was so much incredible merchandise to buy. The only problem was that we got back so late that everything was closed as we raced to the ship. I was the second to last person back on the ship. Yikes! Still, Jamaica was fantastic. Last year, we visited San Martin and hated it. The people clearly didn't want us there and the tour guide spent all her time telling us how they ended slavery and now have KFC and Burger King just like you white devils - everyone seemed pissed. The people in Jamaica, by comparison, weren't hung up on the past and didn't want to be victims. They were happy, friendly, and made the best of what they had and created a pretty fantastic little country for themselves. The lesson is, live for the future, not to whine about the past.

Definitely a mixed bag. But don't get me wrong... we enjoyed the cruise a lot. We had a great time. I would definitely recommend cruising to everyone. But this is not the ship for you. There is nothing that they did that Disney didn't do better and cheaper. And frankly, I'm willing to bet that most every other cruise line does it better too.


AndrewPrice said...

BTW, My favorite Filipino bartender on the ship told me that he thinks Trump is the president the US needs right now to right itself, and says he's actually rather popular in the Philippines.

ScottDS said...

Would the bartender be your favorite if he liked Hillary? (Sorry, had to ask!)

Sorry to hear it wasn't as good as the Disney cruise. I'm sure there was plenty of nickel-and-diming on the RC cruise my family went on... but I was only 13 and didn't have to pay attention to such things! And there were no "apps" then either!

BTW, if you ever want to meet on a beach Shawshank-style and work on a boat, I'm in!

Anonymous said...

Good to know. I know someone who warned me off of Royal Caribbean, he himself does Royal Norwegian only, has enough money to get those giant staterooms.
I haven't done cruises myself, but chinese teens and rude staff is what i think of when i think of cruises, plus if you're a young 30-something shouldn't one be out on a grand tour in europe? Or perhaps a sailboat versus a cruise?

ArgentGale said...

I've never done a cruise myself but I'll keep that in mind about Royal Caribbean. Carnival seems to be the most popular cruise company down here but I can't vouch for it myself. Sorry to hear about the plainness and especially the pop music in the formal dining room in particular. It's been growing like kudzu down here lately and it's making me just a bit twitchy. At least Jamaica and the private segment of Haiti were nice, though!

- Daniel

LL said...

To me the idea of flying wherever down in the Caribbean (Labadee if that's what works best) and taking a barefoot cruise on a sloop with a few couples appeals more than a cattle boat.

tryanmax said...

I hope to one day cruise the Norwegian fjords. I just checked, and Disney does do Norway.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Absolutely. He was a fun and interesting guy and we had a lot of interesting talks long before we spoke politics.

My parents did RCI about 20 years ago and they said it really started to fall apart when they switched to free style cruising, which seems to be true.

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, It depends on the line. Disney wasn't like this. I'm told Cunard, MSC and Holland America aren't like this.

In terms of adventures, it depends. We're thinking of doing a European river cruise next, which is like a cross between cruising and touring Europe yourself.

AndrewPrice said...

Daniel, Carnival is the worst of the worst. It's drunken twenty-year olds and white trash. Avoid them.

We had kudzu in Virginia too. It sucks. It took over my backyard and I could not kill it..

AndrewPrice said...

LL, There are a lot of resorts in the Caribbean that are supposed to be fantastic. Our big issue is still the kids. That's why we can't do certain cruises either because the girls still want the kid experience and don't want to do something like an Asian river cruise on a small ship.

BevfromNYC said...

I can't imagine that anything Disney does to be less that fabulous. Yeah, Royal Caribbean I am sure must be pedestrian after that. I have taken a Royal Norwegian cruise years ago and it was very relaxing and the service was stellar. But cruising has change alot since the late '70's. Cruises are great if like to travel from place to place and don't like to schlep luggage. I want to take one of the Viking River cruises in Europe. They look really cool! Ooooh, Ooooh,Ooooh, maybe a "Commentarama-Cruise" before Europe completely devolves into chaos! ;-D

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Disney now does everything everyone else does as well, and they keep expanding.

The thing about Disney is that people assume it will be a boatload of kids, but it's not. They are amazingly good at entertaining the kids and keeping them away from the adults. For the adults, they have created an elegant, old-school type ship that is just perfect. Amazing crew. Lots of do. Tremendous food (except the buffet). No nickle and diming. Elegant, peaceful ship. All the luxuries (except a casino).

The funny thing is that the other cruises appear a lot cheaper, but they really aren't. For example, our base price was about $750 cheaper per person on RCI than Disney. But then we spent $800 on drinks packages that were included at Disney. We spent $100 to get intra-ship texting, which was free at Disney. We spent about $500 on luggage and transportation, which was included at Disney. Disney's luggage and transport was fantastic. We gave our luggage to the airport here and never touched it again until we got home again. They moved it for us from plane to hotel to ship to airport.

All told, the two cruises cost about the same, but everything with Disney was included and you never needed to reach into your wallet if you wanted something.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, That would be fantastic! A Commentarama River cruise! :)

On Disney, they were amazing. It really was magic. It was like you always thought cruising should be. The RCI cruise was like visiting a mall. It never felt special and there were lots of disappointments. They did some great things, but overall, they underwhelmed pretty regularly.

ArgentGale said...

That explains why Carnival is popular down here, then! We have plenty of both types and unfortunately Carnival doesn't seem likely to lose them outside the Jurassic Park fence on Haiti. I doubt a cruise is going to be in my budget any time soon but I'll remember Disney and forget Carnival and the SS In-App-Purchase (another good one, BTW) should I ever get the chance for one!

- Daniel

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